27th Feb 2024

MEPs aspire to Cheney and Rumsfeld hearings in CIA probe

The vice-chairman of the European Parliament's committee on CIA renditions has suggested MEPs should hear senior US officials, such as Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, as part of their investigation.

Members of the temporary committee gathered for the first time on Thursday (26 January), and elected as chairman the Portuguese centre-right MEP Carlos Coelho, with Italian socialist Giovanni Claudio Fava assigned as rapporteur.

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  • Baroness Ludford says MEPs should leave "no stone unturned" in their CIA investigation (Photo: Sarah Ludford)

MEPs in the committee are expected to look into allegations of CIA activities in Europe, which were reportedly in breach of human rights principles, including rendition flights and prison camps potentially involving cases of torture.

The parliament is mainly focusing on the responsibility of EU governments and their alleged co-operation with American secret agents.

But the British liberal democrat, Sarah Ludford, as a vice-chairman of the committee, hinted MEPs should also invite senior US figures, such as vice-president Dick Cheney or defence chief Ronald Rumsfeld, to their sessions.

"If we do our job seriously and efficiently, leaving no stone unturned, we will demonstrate our commitment to upholding the core values of human rights which lie at the heart of the union," she noted.

However, Baroness Ludford's suggestions were quickly scorned by some of her parliamentary colleagues, who warned that the committee should not become a forum for rhetorical fights between US policy supporters and critics.

"The idea of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld coming to testify is breathtakingly naive," commented British conservative Charles Tannock.

He added "America should know that it has some supporters in the European Parliament but ensuring rational and objective debate in this committee is clearly going to take some doing."

The committee is planning to hold another session at the forthcoming Strasbourg plenary in February.

Several MEPs from the committee have already held initial talks with their national governments on the issue.

However, according to Slovak centre-right deputy Miroslav Mikolasik even this week's report by the Swiss investigator Dick Marty for the Council of Europe has not made clear what are the facts and what are merely allegations.

But Sarah Ludford says the report is a "solid base" for MEPs' work.

"Those governments which are scornful of his findings have a responsibility to clear their names of suspicion by providing directly elected MEPs with documents and first-hand testimony of what they know about their country's involvement," she said.

She made clear the committee has a duty to hold EU governments responsible for any action in breach of the bloc's rules, saying "conclusions can be drawn from non-cooperation."

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